by Zena Henry
The almost two-month old coalition government on Thursday pledged to ensure a level playing-field and transparency for investors setting up operations in Guyana.
That commitment was made by Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin in his keynote address at the opening of the US$24 million dollar Giftland Mall at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
He expressed grave concern about the apparent unpredictable regime to which investors have been subjected to. “One of the most frequent complaints that I have received in my six weeks in office is that of long delays in various processes related to doing business in Guyana and the perception that certain businesses have special access that allows them to navigate the bureaucracy more smoothly than the rest and even pick up a few concessions along the way,” he told the massive gathering.
Invitees included Prime Minister and acting President Moses Nagamootoo, government ministers, diplomats, investment partners, and owners of the mall-the Beepat family.
Gaskin made it clear that he would be treating with urgency the delays and obstacles involved in investing in Guyana. He said, “There is a sense that the process is unfair, and there is also great lack of clarity when it comes to what businesses can expect in dealing with the bureaucracy.”
The Minister said this matter needs urgent attention, “because one of the most critical facts in determining invest confidence is that of certainty.”
He said few investors can be certain about how much profits they make and that’s part of what makes business a risky venture. “You can win and you can lose and that is understood but there needs to be certainty and this is particularly critical when it comes to the decisions and concessions and approvals and licenses issued by the state.”
“Investors don’t want a French menu when they go to do business with government, they want clear English that tells them upfront what they are entitled to and how long they get whatever it is that their entitled to.” The Minister said with the right effort the way Guyana does business could be greatly improved.
In relation to the mall, Minister Gaskin, after welcoming the new venture, made the important connections of government and private investors working side by side. He said Giftland means business and so does Guyana.
Owner of Giftland Mall, Roy Beepat expressed gratitude to investors, friends and well wishers for their support in making the venture a reality. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Ramdeo gave a small background on the family and where they began. .
The multi-million dollar shopping and entertainment complex had been in the making for a while with numerous setbacks related to financing, weather and equipment.
Giftland OfficeMax was previously located on Water Street in the city up to a few days ago when it closed those doors to make way their new location on the East Coast of Demerara.
The Mall will officially open Friday with eight cinemas, shopping areas and dining space. The mall is at its first phase with three more phases expected to be completed. Investors say hundreds more persons will be employed directly and indirectly by Giftland.